When looking to contemporary architecture and interiors in Brazil there’s a design firm that crops us time and time again: Studio Arthur Casas. Established by distinguished architectural, interior and furniture designer Arthur Casas in 1999, the studio has honed a distinctive design style that merges Brazil’s iconic modernist aesthetic with contemporary cosmopolitan flair.
There’s a sense of harmony that Arthur Casas and his team create with every project through a holistic rendering of Brazilian design, both contemporary and historical. The natural landscape is cherished and complemented rather than concealed, and the resources that the country offers are appreciated in the same way, yet designs are always unprecedented and ingenious.
When Casas speaks of his approach to furniture and architecture he states that he designs ‘from the inside out’, with the intention ’to improve the life of the individual who uses and experiences the spaces’.
Like many contemporary Brazilian designers, Casas and his team are greatly influenced by the modernism practiced by Brazilian creatives of the past, whilst also seeking to continue to innovate further. Casas cites Oscar Niemeyer, Vilanova Artigas, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Affonso Reidy, Lina Bo Bardi as just a handful designers that have shaped his own works.
However, the sources of influence do not lie solely in the field in which Studio Arthur Casas works; they extend out into wider art and cultural movements, further enriching the Studio's design aesthetic. This is the case for many contemporary Brazilian designers; art, furniture design, architecture and other creative fields are amalgamated and processed with extremely rewarding results.
As Casas expresses, 'We are experiencing a rare moment in architecture and arts; there are no dogmas to be followed. I feel free to use and juxtapose several elements - both in architecture and product design’.
This freedom of creativity is extended to his relationship with natural resources. Brazilian designers and Studio Arthur Casas champion the sustainable use of raw materials, being mindful to source local materials and craftsmen, as well as producing pieces in smaller quantities rather than in masses. On this subject Arthur Casas states,
‘There is no good architecture if environmental preservation is simply ignored. I think that architecture must have a supporting role among the landscape's protagonist. I tend to prefer materials that mimic and merge with nature - and it is even better when it's possible to find it close to the project, benefitting local or nearby workforces. Before we even start a project, there's huge research concerning all these aspects.’
Employing sustainability in furniture and architectural design may seem like a plain-sailing task, but when working on commercial projects it can be difficult to apply. The lack of mass production for Brazilian furniture makes the pieces more difficult to obtain, and spaces harder to replicate. Studio Arthur Casas works with both residential and commercial customers, creating some of the most beautiful homes, hotels and restaurants throughout Brazil. Their residential clients are not looking for perfection but rather, as Mr Casas puts it, they
‘value life with family and among a small group of friends. They are practical individuals, that work and share responsibilities amongst themselves at their home; liberal professionals that regularly have business travels and just want a welcoming, comfortable and harmonious environment as they return home.’
In order to appreciate modern and contemporary Brazilian design one must value and comprehend the country and culture of which it is born; bold but never gaudy, forward-thinking but with a sense of tradition, tropical and yet always metropolitan. And Arthur Casas and his namesake studio exemplify how these juxtapositions can result in something inspired and arresting.